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Jae McQueen and Stephanie Begun from the Graduate School of Social Work kicked off our final Faculty Showcase series for 2015 on November 18, 2015. This faculty showcase was based on a Image of Policy Course Conversion Posterposter  they presented at the 2015 Council of Social Work Education conference.

Jae and Stephanie described how and why they converted a successful face-to-face social policy course into a fully online course. They also shared why they believe cultivating community is important and shared examples of how they built community in an online classroom.  This faculty showcase was recorded and you can check out the recording below.

<div style="font-size: 11px;"]Faculty Showcase: Cultivating Community in Online Courses

The University of Denver has been offering online courses through University College for several years, and the number of online course offerings within our traditional academic programs is expanding, especially during summer term. Over 165 DU instructors, representing almost every academic unit on campus, have successfully completed the OTL’s Teaching Online Workshop, an intensive online workshop designed to prepare faculty members to teach an online course.

During the 2014 summer term, DU offered 80 fully online undergraduate courses to over 950 students. At the end of the summer, 254 students (26%) responded to a survey about their experiences in their online course(s). The majority of students who completed the survey reported they learned a great deal in their online course (78%) and that they would take another online class at DU (85%).

Some of the key benefits of online course cited by the students included:

  • It allowed me to take my learning into my own hands and learn in my own way.
  • It was nice to be able to not only work on my assignments but interact with other students in discussions from the comfort of my own home. I would really like to see more classes like this.
  • If I had to stay late at work, or needed to be out of town for work, I could listen/watch lectures and participate virtually as needed. It was very helpful and took a huge weight off.
  • I can dictate my own schedule and learn at my pace. I didn’t have to wait around while other students asked irrelevant questions.
  • I was able to prepare my own schedule for reading and writing and in that manner was also able to really think through ideas and craft responses to prompts from the professor and other students during online discussions.

The OTL has developed several resources to prepare students and instructors to be successful in the online environment.  For example, we created the short video below of a DU student who gives advice to other students about how to be successful in an online course.

 

Visit the links below for more information and resources about online learning at DU.

The Successful Online Learner

What DU Instructors Need to Know About Teaching Online

Teaching Online Workshop

List of Teaching Online Workshop Participants

 

 

 

Not all students have taken an online course, so it is important we help them understand how online courses work and help them be successful online learners. The Office of Teaching & Learning (OTL) created a resource page for students called “The Successful Online Learner” that includes an “Online Readiness Assessment” to help students understand their level of preparedness for online courses. Instructors are invited to share this resource and assessment with their online students to better prepare them for the online learning environment.

In addition, not many faculty members have taken or taught an online course, so we also created a resource for faculty members entitled “What You Need to Know About Teaching Online”. We encourage you to read this if you are thinking about teaching an online class.

The OTL offers intensive workshops for faculty members teaching in the online or hybrid format. The next Teaching Online Workshop (TOW) begins on July 7, 2014 and is required before faculty members can teach an online course at DU.  Both TOW and the Hybrid 3D workshops span several weeks, are primarily delivered online, and faculty members experience online or hybrid delivery first-hand as students. Participants in these workshops will develop their online or hybrid course as part of the workshop activities.

Teaching Online Workshop Registration and Details

For information about when the next Hybrid 3-D Workshop will be offered, contact Virginia Pitts.

Online courses place new responsibilities on the learner

Online learning requires a specific skill set to be successful. You’re on your own, learning 24/7, when-how-where you want when joining an online course. To do well, your technology should be reliable and fast. Your hardware should be up-to-date. Your machine should be protected from viruses. You should use secure passwords and know the site and sender when being asked to download a file. These are your responsibilities, as your online instructor won’t be able to help you with your own unique technology problems. Technology preparedness is important, but it is not the only thing you need to do to create a successful online learning environment. This page will help you gauge your readiness and prepare you for your online course experience.

There are a few practices that the University of Denver recommends in order to make your learning experience a positive one. If you follow these sensible guidelines and schedule ample amounts of time and attention for your studies, your online experience should be an exciting adventure in personalized, anytime learning:

  • Take the Online Learning Readiness Assessment
  • Manage Your Time
  • Manage Your Communication Style
  • Manage Your Computer

Watch this short video for advice from a student about how to be successful in an online course. Hope completed two online courses at DU, a condensed ASEM course during the summer term, and a biology course during the regular Winter term.

Online Learning Readiness Assessment

Take the online learning readiness assessment to help you understand your level of preparedness for online courses. By providing answers to each of the questions, we will be able to assess your readiness and help determine what you need in order to be a successful online learner. Make sure to review the feedback upon completing the assessment and then follow the appropriate recommendations.

Take Assessment

Manage Your Time

Online learners report a challenge in managing their work without the reminder of class time. You’ll need a method for task and schedule management that works for you. You’ll also need to be realistic about the time needed to complete an assignment or to study for an exam. Schedule that time ahead, allowing for life’s interruptions. You may also be surprised by the engagement of online discussions. Be aware of your time online.

As an online student, the ability to manage your time well and to be organized regarding your online course are keys to being a successful online learner. In order to be successful in an online course, you may need to make adjustments to your study habits. Online courses generally require more self-discipline to complete coursework and manage deadlines than face-to-face classes.  Keep in mind some online courses are offered in a condensed format. Condensed online courses will be very intensive, often requiring several hours of daily work. For example, a 5-week, 4-credit-hour course may require you to spend 20 hours per week on the course. Schedule time each day to work on your online course, and try to stick to it. Keep up with assignments to avoid being overwhelmed later. Don’t register for multiple online courses under the assumption that they are less work.

Manage Your Communication & Writing Skills

In an online class, there may be no direct, face-to-face contact with other students or the instructor. Because of the lack of face-to-face contact, it is important you are comfortable interpreting instructions on your own, seeking out help when you need it, and communicating in written form.
Because most online communication is in writing, you will need to make sure you read all written instructions carefully and seek out help when you need it. It is very important to let your instructor know if you need assistance or clarification on course content or instructions, even if you generally do not ask for help. Make sure you know the best method and appropriate time for contacting your instructor with class-related questions so you can plan ahead. The DU Writing Center offers online consultations to students who need remote assistance with their writing projects. You can schedule a consultation time with DU Writing Center staff through myWeb or call 303-871-7456 and ask for an online consultation. An appointment confirmation and set of instructions will then be sent to your email address.

Accommodations

If you are a student who requires accommodations, make sure you understand how they will work, and communicate with the instructor early on regarding your accommodations (e.g. Will there be timed tests? If so, how will you receive extended time? Will videos be captioned?).  If you are a student who uses assistive technology (e.g. screen reader, text-to-speech software), ensure that your technology is compatible with the technology used in the course.

Manage Your Computer

Technological readiness refers to your familiarity with technology that may be used in conjunction with your online course; including fast and reliable access to the Internet. You are more likely to be successful in an online class if you take steps to ensure you have a reliable computer (updated anti-virus software, spyware free) that has at least two web browsers installed and regular access to the Internet. Familiarize yourself with the support resources available to students by visiting the University’s Technology Services (UTS) Help Desk. Check or review the technical requirements that are specific to your course and complete the student orientation if one is made available by your instructor. Make sure your computer is free of spyware by reviewing UTS’s Guidelines for protecting your machine from Spyware.

Contact the DU Helpdesk (303-871-4700) right away if you have any technical issues.

Manage your hardware
Follow DU’s Guidelines for minimum and recommended hardware specifications for student computers.

Recommended Accessories
External USB 2.0 or Firewire 400/800 hard drive: Strongly recommended for data backup in case of computer failure. Always keep a daily backup of files.
Headset with microphone: A headset with microphone for desktop machines, strong built-in microphone on your laptop, or ear buds with a microphone.
WebCam: Built-in or external webcam (check with your instructor to find out if a webcam is required).

Manage your software
Web Browsers
: You should have at least TWO web browsers, as no browser/hardware combination can effectively handle all file types. We recommend CHROME and FIREFOX for all machines; Internet Explorer for Windows; and Safari for Apple. Below are links to plug-ins that you should have installed on your computer and recommended guidelines for the Learning Management System (Canvas) you are using in your online class. Your instructor will tell you if there are additional hardware or software requirements for your specific course.
Canvas Supported Browsers
Adobe Reader: You may need this to download and view PDF documents.
Flash Player: You may need Flash installed to view media in your course.
Email: You will need access to your DU email. Your official University email will go to your firstname.lastname@du.edu address setting.

Security & Privacy Issues
Manage your identity. Be careful out there!  It is important that you keep your identity and your information safe and secure, so make certain that you have up-to-date virus protection and actively employ safe online security practices. The first step is to create safe and secure passwords. Creating passwords using the name of your dog, spouse or child is NOT considered good identity control. The second step is to install anti-spyware and anti-virus software to protect your computer and identity.

Protecting your Computer

With these simple steps, you’re better prepared for the adventure of being an online learner. If you have questions or concerns, please contact your instructor right away.

In 2012, Morgridge College of Education doctoral student Angel Chi (now PhD) conducted her dissertation around the questions, “Why do tenured faculty members decide to teach online?” and, “What characterizes their journey?” She interviewed and created case studies of 4 tenured DU professors and shares some highlights from her study below.

The journey to teaching online: A case study of faculty preparation and experiences in online teaching

Excerpts of doctoral dissertation by Angel Chi, PhD

When Bill Gates published his book “The Road Ahead” (1995), he summarized the transformative implications of the personal computing revolution and described a future profoundly changed by the arrival of a global information super highway.  Almost twenty years later, the tsunami of online programs and the MOOCs (massive online open courses) is impacting the structural integrity of postsecondary institutions and changing the competitive landscape of higher learning at an unprecedented pace.  When Allen and Seaman (2013) asked the question of whether faculty acceptance of online education increased in their Sloan Consortium annual report, only 30.2% of chief academic officers believe their faculty accept the value and legitimacy of online education.  This rate is even lower than the rate recorded in 2004. With an apparent widening gap between institutional strategy and faculty acceptance, each organization needs to conceptually map its road ahead.  However, only an institution as a whole can decide for itself what kind of change is needed and define what constitutes evidence of lasting change.  This implies a unique transformation of institutional philosophy, culture, strategy, and reward systems for faculty members.

Thus, instead of trying to measure, evaluate, or categorize which faculty member fits into which stage of online faculty development under which framework, the intention of my study was to identify participants’ individual experiences on why they teach online, how they learn to teach online, and what factors influences their journeys to teaching online.  Complex adoptive system (CAS) theory (Olson & Eoyang, 2001) suggests that the most powerful organizational transformations occur not at the macro level but rather at the micro level where behaviors and changes began to emerge.  It is in this micro level where their subsequent behaviors changes and shared values may be interpreted through the complex adoptive systems lens categorized in three areas:

  1. Individual differences (competency, expertise, and educational background): the instructors have different levels of technical competency and online experiences but for the most part do not find technology an issue in teaching online.  Their intrinsic motivations propelled them into teaching online.  However, they all expressed needing extrinsic motivations to keep up the much-needed momentum in furthering their online teaching efforts.
  2. Transformational exchanges (meetings, educational events, and faculty development efforts): all participants felt the required Teaching Online Workshop and the experience of being an online student were extremely useful in helping them launch their first online courses.  However, as they become a group of experienced online instructors, they would like to see more informal and formal peer support and recognition.  In addition, they need more relevant pedagogical training and design support in developing additional online courses.
  3. Environmental (e.g. institutional culture and resources): the participants felt that in order to achieve meaningful institutionalization in teaching online, the institution needs to provide clear vision in commitment, reward, recognition, support, and flexibility in every level of administration including the APT structure.  The faculty participants offered invaluable inputs on ways to promote online faculty transformation.

Their narratives painted a landscape of faculty acceptance in institutions and the online learning phenomena in our society.  Ultimately, their stories are really about change. By studying the “change agents” in a changing organization in a changing industry, this study is not an exercise to identify the best practices. Rather, this study hopes to inspire new ideas for new ways to conceptually frame the problem facing the faculty, the institution, and the industry in their road ahead in teaching online.

Angel’s dissertation is available online through the Social Science Research Network.

The OTL is offering two intensive workshops this summer for faculty members who plan to teach an online or hybrid course next year.  The official DU definitions for online and hybrid are:

Online/Distance: A course in which all or nearly all of the organized instruction is conducted online or by distance learning methodologies.

Combined/Hybrid: A course in which online (or other distance) instruction is combined with face to face instruction, where a substantial portion of the face to face instruction is replaced by online instruction.

The Hybrid 3-D Workshop begins on June 21st and the Teaching Online Workshop (TOW) begins on August 5th. Both workshops span several weeks, are primarily delivered online, and faculty members experience online or hybrid delivery first-hand as students. Participants in these workshops will develop their online or hybrid course as part of the workshop activities.

Hybrid 3-D Workshop Registration and Details

Teaching Online Workshop Registration and Details

Several DU faculty and staff members presented at the 2013 eLearning Consortium of Colorado (eLCC) conference in Breckenridge, Colorado this month.  The conference brings together college faculty, administrators, instructional designers,  vendors and others to share teaching techniques and best practices for online education.

picture of elcc presenters

Carol, Alice, Susanne & Kathy

The DU team shared their expertise with other eLCC members in the following sessions:

 

 

The OTL provides instructional design assistance and workshops for faculty members interested in developing online courses. Online instructors must complete the OTL’s Teaching Online Workshop (TOW) before teaching an online course.

Teaching Online

Teaching Online

What is the Teaching Online Initiative?

In 2009, 14 DU faculty members participated in a pilot project to explore the value of providing traditional undergraduate students the opportunity to take online courses. These faculty members completed the Teaching Online Workshop and participated in a series of faculty development sessions to learn how to develop a quality online course. The vast majority of faculty members who participated in the pilot indicated that they felt that the faculty development activities were necessary for them to learn how to teach online, that the initial creation of an online course was time-consuming but that they would teach an online course again because of the generally positive outcomes they observed. The program has now expanded to include graduate level and hybrid courses.

What is the difference between an online and a hybrid/blended course?

An Online/Distance course is a course in which all or nearly all of the organized instruction is conducted online or by distance learning methodologies. A  Combined/Hybrid course is a course in which online (or other distance) instruction is combined with face to face instruction, where a substantial portion of the face to face instruction is replaced by online instruction.

Are there guidelines about online courses?

There is a minimum duration of four weeks for online courses and we recommend that online courses limit enrollment to no more than 20 students. It is important that online and hybrid courses are correctly identified as online or hybrid within the DU scheduling system. The schedule type is “Online/Distance” for online courses and “Combined/Hybrid Methodologies” for hybrid/blended courses.

Who to contact?

For more information about teaching online, contact Kathy Keairns.

Learn More

Thinking about teaching online? Take this Faculty Self-Assessment for Online Teaching Preparedness to see if you are ready for online teaching.

The Office of Teaching and Learning provides funding opportunities for DU faculty and departments that improve teaching practices and promote excellence in teaching and learning.

Online and Hybrid Courses

Online and Hybrid Courses

Over 240 faculty members have completed the Teaching Online Short Course or  Teaching Online Workshop (TOW) since Fall 2009! Here’s what some recent participants have said about their experience:

Dr. Gregory Robbins
"While demanding, the Teaching Online Workshop is well worth the effort it takes. Beyond learning how to negotiate Canvas and being introduced to the Quality Matters Program for online course design, you receive astonishingly detailed feedback as you build your course from instructors who have terrific pedagogical instincts, who review your materials with tremendous care, and who offer invaluable suggestions and strategies for improvement."

Dr. Gregory Robbins, Chair, Department of Religious Studies

2014-08-28T10:13:07+00:00

Dr. Gregory Robbins, Chair, Department of Religious Studies

Dr. Gregory Robbins
“While demanding, the Teaching Online Workshop is well worth the effort it takes. Beyond learning how to negotiate Canvas and being introduced to the Quality Matters Program for online course design, you receive astonishingly detailed feedback as you build your course from instructors who have terrific pedagogical instincts, who review your materials with tremendous care, View Full →
Dr. Elizabeth Drogin
"The TOW was invaluable in preparing me to teach my first online course. The workshop provided a wealth of resources and strategies for teaching online, as well as opportunities to experiment with specific tools and approaches in a supportive environment. Most helpful, though, was the incredible amount of personal attention and feedback provided by the instructors. I would highly recommend this course to anyone considering teaching online."

Dr. Elizabeth Drogin, Lecturer, Writing Program

2014-08-28T11:00:15+00:00

Dr. Elizabeth Drogin, Lecturer, Writing Program

Dr. Elizabeth Drogin
“The TOW was invaluable in preparing me to teach my first online course. The workshop provided a wealth of resources and strategies for teaching online, as well as opportunities to experiment with specific tools and approaches in a supportive environment. Most helpful, though, was the incredible amount of personal attention and feedback provided by the View Full →
Dr. Christy Rossi
“Having the opportunity to be a student in an online learning environment was really valuable. I experienced firsthand how helpful it is to receive information about the learning modality and course organization early on, to ensure that students know what to expect before tackling course content."

Dr. Christy Rossi, Lecturer, Department of Psychology

2014-09-02T11:21:40+00:00

Dr. Christy Rossi, Lecturer, Department of Psychology

Dr. Christy Rossi
“Having the opportunity to be a student in an online learning environment was really valuable. I experienced firsthand how helpful it is to receive information about the learning modality and course organization early on, to ensure that students know what to expect before tackling course content.”
Dr. Omar Gudino
"Participating in the TOW helped me recognize what quality online learning looks like and changed my perception of online courses for the better. As a student in this online workshop, I was able to experience firsthand how thoughtful course design and judicious use of multimedia tools can come together to create a rich learning environment. Practically speaking, the TOW also provided a fantastic opportunity to develop a course with thoughtful feedback and ongoing support from the instructors and my colleagues. The TOW is a wonderful resource for any instructor who is new to online teaching."

Dr. Omar Gudino, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology

2014-09-03T14:48:12+00:00

Dr. Omar Gudino, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology

Dr. Omar Gudino
“Participating in the TOW helped me recognize what quality online learning looks like and changed my perception of online courses for the better. As a student in this online workshop, I was able to experience firsthand how thoughtful course design and judicious use of multimedia tools can come together to create a rich learning environment. View Full →
Dr. Jim Platt
“Don’t be afraid to sign up for this valuable workshop even if you are a technology novice as I was. The TOW faculty were exceptionally helpful, understanding, and patient with those of us who were “technologically challenged."

Dr. James Platt, Department of Biological Sciences, retired.

2014-09-10T16:52:23+00:00

Dr. James Platt, Department of Biological Sciences, retired.

Dr. Jim Platt
“Don’t be afraid to sign up for this valuable workshop even if you are a technology novice as I was. The TOW faculty were exceptionally helpful, understanding, and patient with those of us who were “technologically challenged.”

The Teaching Online Short Course (formerly Teaching Online Workshop) is an intensive online course designed to prepare faculty members  to teach an online course. By DU’s definition, an online course is a course in which all or nearly all of the organized instruction is conducted online. Completing the course is a requirement for DU faculty members planning to teach online.

What is the Teaching Online Short Course?

The Teaching Online Short Course is offered 3 times per year. It is delivered entirely online and instructors experience online learning first-hand from the student perspective. After completing the course, participants will be able to:

  1. Locate OTL resources related to online course facilitation and design.
  2. Identify methods for engaging and motivating online learners.
  3. Recognize appropriate uses for assessment tools (assignments, quizzes, rubrics, etc.).
  4. Identify effective techniques for providing feedback.
  5. Demonstrate best practices for facilitating discussion boards.
  6. Apply experience as an online learner to the facilitation of your own course.

Thinking about teaching online? Take this Faculty Self-Assessment for Online Teaching Preparedness to see if you are ready for online teaching.

What is the time commitment?

Schedule and Estimated Faculty Time Commitment

3 Weeks Online – 5-10 hours per week (varies based on your level of experience with Canvas and number of times you have taught the course)

Note: To be eligible for the workshop,  participants must be familiar with Canvas and have completed the DU Canvas Instructor Tutorial course.

Why do I have to take a course before I can teach online?

The University of Denver is committed to providing our students with quality online courses and online course development & delivery requires a high level of organization and different methods and strategies than traditional classroom instruction. It is important to pay careful attention to course organization and facilitation to improve student engagement, learning, and retention in online courses. By participating in the Teaching Online short course, faculty members will experience online learning from the student perspective, and learn best practices for developing and facilitating online courses.

When is the next Teaching Online Short Course?

The next Teaching Online short course will be offered beginning on October 2, 2017. Register now  if you would like to participate in the Fall 2017 short course.  Contact Kathy Keairns if you would like to be added to the notification list for an upcoming session.

Learn More

Who to contact?

For more information, contact Kathy Keairns.


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